Moanin at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin Wolf by James SegrestHowlin’ Wolf was a musical giant in every way. He stood six foot three, weighed almost three hundred pounds, wore size sixteen shoes, and poured out his darkest sorrows onstage in a voice like a raging chainsaw. Half a century after his first hits, his sound still terrifies and inspires.
Born Chester Burnett in 1910, the Wolf survived a grim childhood and hardscrabble youth as a sharecropper in Mississippi. He began his career playing and singing with the first Delta blues stars for two decades in perilous juke joints. He was present at the birth of rock ’n’ roll in Memphis, where Sam Phillips–who also discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis–called Wolf his “greatest discovery.” He helped develop the sound of electric blues and vied with rival Muddy Waters for the title of king of Chicago blues. He ended his career performing and recording with the world’s most famous rock stars. His passion for music kept him performing–despite devastating physical problems–right up to his death in 1976.
There’s never been a comprehensive biography of the Wolf until now. Moanin’ at Midnight is full of startling information about his mysterious early years, surprising and entertaining stories about his decades at the top, and never-before-seen photographs. It strips away all the myths to reveal–at long last–the real-life triumphs and tragedies of this blues titan.
Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightnin'
Burnett was brought up on a cotton plantation, and the music he heard was the traditional tunes of the region. In the s he went to Arkansas, where there was a flourishing blues tradition, and formed his own group, which included James Cotton and Little Jr. Parker, both of whom became noted blues performers in their own right. Burnett accompanied himself on guitar and harmonica, but his main instrument was his guttural and emotionally suggestive voice, which gave his songs power and authenticity. Burnett was noted for his brooding lyrics and his earthy, aggressive stage presence.
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When he was 13, Chester ran away from Will Young to the Delta to rejoin his father, half-sister, and step-siblings, who lived on the Young and Morrow plantation near Ruleville. When his father bought him his first guitar in January , he convinced Patton to give him guitar lessons. He even affected the clothes and look of some of his musical idols. For awhile, he played music while wearing tiny wire-rim glasses and a dark suit like the only known photo of Lemon Jefferson. Schoenfeld www. Chester Arthur Burnett has probably had more impact worldwide than the 19th-century American president after whom he was named. You can see the station in the personalized photo books to the left of this page.
He was one of six children in his family. He, along with his brothers and sisters, was raised on a plantation where his parents worked Contemporary Musicians When Wolf was a child, his grandfather told him stories of wolves in Mississippi. Wolf met legendary Delta blues singer Robert Johnson in Robinsonville, Mississippi , and they played together briefly. Shortly thereafter Johnson was poisoned by a jealous girlfriend or husband Withers